Evading Heisenberg isn’t easy

Researchers at Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland (EPFL) unravel novel dynamics in the interaction between light and mechanical motion with significant implications for quantum measurements designed to evade the influence of the detector in the notorious ‘back action limit‘ problem.

Atomic- and magnetic-resonance force microscopes can reveal the atomic structure of materials and even sense the spins of single atoms. The lab of Tobias Kippenberg at EPFL, working with scientists at the University of Cambridge and IBM Research — Zurich, have discovered novel dynamics that place unexpected constraints on the achievable sensitivity.

The work shows that tiny deviations in the optical frequency together with deviations in the mechanical frequency, can have grave results — even in the absence of extraneous effects — as the mechanical oscillations begin to amplify out of control, mimicking the physics of what is called a “degenerate parametric oscillator.” (EPFL)

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